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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Something Olympia Snow gets right!

The Wall Street Journal points to a speech that Olympia Snowe made last month when she pointed out that the best social reform bills passed by Congress are ones passed by a real bipartisan majority not a phony one of just one Republican senator voting to give the whole shebang a false veneer of bipartisan cover.
While Social Security passed when Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House, she said, 64% of Senate Republicans and 79% of the House GOP supported it. Civil rights passed with 82% of Republicans in the Senate and 80% in the House, while 41% and 51%, respectively, voted for Medicare. Mrs. Snowe could have added the 1996 welfare reform that President Clinton signed with the support of nearly all Republicans in Congress, 98 Democratic Representatives and 25 Democratic Senators.

"Policies that will affect more than 300 million people simply should not be decided by partisan, one-vote-margin strategies," Senator Snowe explained, and Congress should not be "railroading solutions along partisan lines."
Instead of true bipartisanship, we get this patched together bill that Harry Reid wants to rush through by Christmas just so he can meet a political self-imposed deadline. There is no real rush since the bill's benefits won't go into effect until 2014. It is just so that President Obama can have something self-congratulatory to say at the State of the Union and so the Democrats don't have to make these hard votes in an election year. As if it really makes such a political difference that they voted in December instead of January or February. Do they really think that voters' attention spans are so short that people will be upset about a vote in January but not one on Christmas Day which is when Reid is threatening to hold the Senate in session?

And to meet this totally artificial deadline, he's cobbled together a supposed agreement that hasn't even been written into a bill-format and hasn't been examined by the CBO. And Reid wants to then craft some huge manager's amendment to fix up issues like abortion so that he can win back Ben Nelson's vote. And all the liberals who voted against Nelson's abortion amendment on Monday will vote for Reid's manager's amendment that will restore basically the same provisions as Nelson had. They will be able to tell their supporters that they voted against it before they voted for it so don't bug them about their vote.

And he's expecting to force this vote sometime before Christmas. Amazing.

Unfortunately, the Democrats have rejected the true path to meaningful, well-considered reform - to scrap this monstrosity and start over with a truly bipartisan group instead of building something that the left likes and they're hoping they can entice Olympia Snowe to approve. It's crazy, but that's your Senate for you.


Freeven said...

Bipartisanship is overrated. Certainly it's nice to have, but it's often more an indicator of political prowess than it is a hallmark of good policy.

The examples given (Social Security, Civil Rights, Medicare, Welfare Reform) are a mixed bag. They show, to various degrees, that even popular programs can suffer from extra-constitutionality, inefficiency, unintended consequences, and shortsightedness. Let us not forget that Prescription Drug Coverage, No Child Left Behind, and even the Iraq war garnered solid bipartisan support.

Some presidents (Reagan, and both Clinton and Bush II, to some extent) have the leadership and political skills to draw the opposition along. Others (JFK, Carter, Obama) do not. (JFK, if I recall, wasn't able to get much done, even with his own party controlling Congress.)

Bipartisanship certainly makes things go more smoothly, but I'm much more interested in sound policy and clarity of ideas than I am in agreement. I'm all about limited government, so while I loathe partisanship for its own sake, I welcome it when the battles fought are true philosophical ones. And I've come to welcome gridlock, since neither party seems capable of resisting the insidiousness of government creep.

Bachbone said..., hilarious that Snowe should make that statement when she is one of the very few GOP senators Democrats know they can peel off to make a bill look bipartisan!